Pups on Parade at Junior Fair Dog Show

The Riordan family dog barks when we get home, slobbers water all over the wood floors when he drinks, and pulls so hard on his leash that walking him is an intense full-body workout. He sleeps all day and smells funny sometimes.  

He’s not exactly dog show material.  

That’s not the case with the pooches entered in the Ramona Junior Fair Dog Show on Saturday.  Over 30 dogs entered the 2009 show at the junior fairgrounds, wrapping up what is essentially a six-show season for the San Diego County 4-H Dog Project and Advisory.  

Taking place in the shaded area of the fairgrounds off Fifth Street and Aqua Lane, near the remodeled Home Ec Room, the Dog Show began just after 8 a.m. and wrapped up in time for lunch from one of the many 4-H food and drink vendors on-site.  

Each participant and pup did their best to wow the judges with Figure 8 maneuvers, long and broad jumps, proper leash-handling and walking,  and sitting on command during the judges’ inspections.

 There were no automatic disqualifications, either, which occur when a dog thinks it’s time to go potty in the ring.

Much like other 4-H competitions and shows, participants are required to maintain their own appearance, with proper 4-H uniforms complete with matching belts and shoes.  Entries may be AKC registered or a mixed breed dog.

The important aspect is the care the handler provides the dog. Points will be deducted if the dog is unbrushed, badly matted, has dirty ears, bad odor, toenails too long, or dirty teeth.  The dedication displayed by this year’s participants  comes as no surprise to those who know what the San Diego County 4-H  Dog Project is all about.

Clubs from around the county meet weekly starting in October to begin training their dogs in obedience, showmanship, and agility.  More than that, 4-H teaches its young members invaluable lessons in responsibility and sportsmanship with a heavy emphasis on leadership.  

Bonnie Trigg, president of the San Diego County 4-H Dog Advisory, commends all of those who stick with the program, admitting that each year they see a 50 percent attrition rate, as many kids cannot dedicate the time necessary to stay involved.  

Those who do make it through the first year, and come back the next, are granted the title of Junior Leaders. They help the new and younger members through the trials that come along with the program.

Trigg tells a story of an 11-year-old Linely Mason from Buena Vista, who displayed unselfish leadership and sportsmanship at a dog show earlier this year. Though the judges try to be as accurate as possible, and several pairs of eyes add up each contestant’s scores for accuracy, sometimes mistakes happen. Mason was told that she and her dog had won first place in Obedience, and she was given the accompanying trophy and ribbon. The girl’s mother realized that a mistake must have been made and, upon further review, an honest mistake of incorrect addition was discovered, and the announcement was made that Mason had not, in fact, won first place, and had failed to place at all.  Mason knew what had to be done, and she gave back the ribbon and trophy, so that they could be awarded to the proper contestant. When offered an extra trophy as consolation, Mason declined, saying she would rather earn one.

With a member roster between 100 and 125 youngsters, Trigg and the San Diego County 4-H Dog Project are regarded as the largest and most accurate 4-H Dog Project in the state, routinely offering assistance and advice to upstart groups from around California.  

They do need some help, though. They are looking for an adult volunteer in Ramona, on a part-time basis, simply to handle some paperwork associated with the Ramona faction of the countywide Dog Project.  No experience with dogs or dog shows is required, just attention to detail and a passion to help.  

Anyone interested may contact Trigg at 760-630-1523 for details.  

Though one of the smaller shows of the year for the group, there was no lack of family fun at the dog show.  For those who may have missed it, the Small Animal Round Robin for Showmanship will takeplace on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the junior fairgrounds and will feature some of the participants and their pooches.  

For more information about all things related to the Ramona Junior Fair, visit its Web site at www.ramonajuniorfair.com.

   
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